Florida has very little tolerance for drunk driving and imposes harsh, swift penalties for people caught driving while impaired. One bad judgment call could mean a tarnished criminal and driving record, forfeiture of your driving privileges, and even jail time.
Our DUI lawyers in Bradenton at Goldman Wetzel provide representation and counsel to people who have been arrested for driving under the influence. We know how damaging a DUI can be for you and your family, and how important your case is. There are three things you should know right off the bat:
- DUI penalties are very stiff if you are convicted — even for a first-time DUI with a relatively low blood alcohol content (BAC) level.
- If it is your first DUI and you act quickly (within 10 days of the arrest), we may be able to help you keep your license, at least to get to and from work or school. More details on this later.
- You do not have to plead guilty. You have options and there are many defenses available.
We can help you navigate the system, fight your DUI, and work towards the best possible outcome. Call our office today at 727-828-3900 and speak to our Bradenton DUI team about your case.
What Are the Potential Penalties for DUI?
Florida has a complicated process and penalty system for DUIs. The State imposes both criminal and administrative penalties, most of which you can find in Florida Statute § 316.193. Below are some of the potential penalties for a first-time DUI:
- Driver’s license suspension for six months to a year
- DUI school
- Thousands of dollars in fees, including administrative fees, a driver’s license reinstatement fee, and criminal fines up to $1,000 (If your BAC was 0.15 or higher or you had a minor in the car, the fines double.)
- Having to maintain FR-44 for three years
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
- 50 hours of community service
- Up to a year of probation
- Up to six months in jail (up to nine months for a BAC of 0.15 or higher)
- Vehicle impoundment for 10 days
Subsequent DUI mean substantially harsher penalties. For example, a second DUI conviction could mean a license suspension for up to five years, nine to 12 months of jail time, double the fines of a first-time DUI, and a vehicle impoundment for 30 days. Penalties increase further for third and subsequent DUIs.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest in Florida?
After an arrest for a first-time DUI, the officer will confiscate your license, issue you an automatic administrative suspension, and give you a citation that serves as a temporary, unrestricted license you can use for 10 days.
This 10-day window is critical. During this time, you have three choices:
- Call our DUI defense attorneys and have us request a formal review hearing to fight your suspension. At the hearing, we can request a 42-day driving permit for you to use during the proceedings. If you win the hearing, the suspension is invalidated, you get your driving privileges back, and the case is closed. If you lose, you will have a 30-day hard suspension after which you can apply for a hardship or Business Purposes Only (BPO) license.
- File a waiver review with the Bureau of Administrative Review, show proof of enrollment in DUI school, and pay a filing fee. With this option, you forfeit your right to get your suspension invalidated, but in exchange, you can get a BPO that you can use for the entire six month-administrative suspension without risking a hard suspension.
- The third, and most ill-advised option, is to do nothing. If you do not request a hearing or file a waiver review within 10 days of your arrest, the State will automatically suspend your license for 30 days (a hard suspension with zero driving privileges), after which you can apply for a BPO.
CAUTION: There are pros and cons to each option. Making a wrong decision could lead to detrimental long-term consequences. Before taking any action, speak to a lawyer about your case to get a good understanding of what you are up against. Attorneys Goldman and Wetzel can explain the process, what each option entails, and which might be best for your particular case.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My DUI?
Having a lawyer protects your interests and equips you to make educated decisions. Many people who have been arrested for DUI do not fully understand their rights or how to competently fight DUI charges. They mistakenly think they must just accept the fines, license suspension, and other penalties without hope of beating their charges.
But this is simply not the case. Our attorneys have helped numerous people successfully through DUI proceedings. This may mean getting the charges dropped during the hearing review, negotiating a plea deal for lesser charges like a wet reckless, or presenting a good defense on your behalf in court. With over three decades of combined legal experience, we know the ins and outs of DUI cases and how to manage them effectively. There are various defenses we can utilize such as:
- Improperly calibrated breathalyzer
- Improper administration of sobriety test
- The failed tests resulted from prescription medication issues, not intoxication
- Lack of probable cause to stop you
Each case is unique. When you work with our firm, we will discuss your options and give you no-nonsense information on what you can expect.
Call Goldman Wetzel for a Free Consult with a DUI Team in Bradenton
A momentary error in judgment does not necessarily have to impact your entire future. Let our team of DUI defense attorneys review your case and explain your next steps.
Remember, you have only 10 days from the time of arrest to protect your driving privileges. Call Goldman Wetzel at 727-828-3900 to speak to someone about your DUI today.